India might win a basketball medal at the Tokyo Olympics- Rohit Bakshi

The fast just got faster. If you felt a little cramped at the edge of the action, you’ll feel a bit free.

Basketball is evolving, and research has suggested average attention span has reduced from 12 seconds to 8 seconds from 2000 to 2015. The rising curve of shorter formats of sports has seen a dramatic rise in recent years, and the trend is continuing with basketball coming to India.

3×3 basketball has come to India…

…and is already creating mini-waves already. Officially being played in 144 countries worldwide, the format has three players on the pitch and one as a substitute. Broken into games of 10 minutes or till the first team scores 21 points, the game is super-pacy, and in a newly-invented way, this gives non-traditional basketball countries a chance to succeed on the International platform.

Rohit Bakshi is a former basketball player and the League Commissioner of the 3-Basketball League

Talking to The Bridge, Rohit Bakshi – League Commissioner of the 3-Basketball League that is being organised by the YKBK Enterprises, started with a how is the format different to anything ever seen in Indian sports. “Well, we’re mixing 70% sports with 30% entertainment. We’re taking the sport to malls, to fluid traffic, that is. Introducing the sport is one of the basic ideas of the pitch map, and audiences have been taking it fairly well at the moment,” opines Bakshi.

We’ve all seen film promotions, product launches and more in malls, but has the concept of sports in malls taken off?

“It has.” Bakshi added, “The kind of response that we’ve received in the first few rounds is astonishing, and the fans have accepted the sport.”

3x3PBL is now being recognised as the “Ticket to Olympics”, especially for the niche talent across the nation, giving India a chance to expand its horizon and have higher representation at the global level – at events such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

With 3x3PBL coming to India, it is sure to change the dynamics of the game and is envisioned to be the next big sensation in sports.

Alongside, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has promoted this concept to all Federations, with particular emphasis on countries where basketball is developing.

Rohit feels Indian players are more suited to this style, as the training modules in the country are more transitional.  This would also suit gameplay in the 3×3 format. The baller-turned-entrepreneur also added that India could benefit from being the ‘first movers’ in a sport that is set to thrill the world. Rohit also sounded positive about India’s chances at the event during the 2020 Olympics.

“3 players from the 3*3 PBL will feature at the FIBA 3×3 World Masters 2018 – a high for any baller from India,” Rohit answered when asked about overseas opportunities for players from the sub-continent.  YKBK Enterprises hold rights to hold 3×3 leagues in not just India, but all countries in the Indian subcontinent.

The seventh session of the FIBA 3×3 World Tour 2018 is set to be held in Hyderabad on September 22-23 this year, and it could be a significant move in making the sport make its mark in the country, with two teams from the currently running league.

“It’s growing at a higher rate than what we anticipated,” Rohit sounded astonished when quipped about India’s reception to the newest venture in the ever-burgeoning sports-business industry.

The man who’s spent a lot of time in Japan and has taken a lot of players to The Land of the Rising Sun also talked about India’s medal credentials. “If India misses out in Tokyo, the 2022 Commonwealth is something the country can be sure about.”

Trendsetters come hand-in-hand with trends, and Bakshi bets on Amjyot Singh Gill to become the ‘Michael Jordan-esque’ character for the Indian landscape. Born in Chandigarh, Gill currently plays for Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League and is one of the hot properties of the Indian basketball scene.

Rohit Bakshi bets on Amjyot Singh Gill to become the ‘Michael Jordan-esque’ character for the Indian landscape.

“Basketball in India is still rising, and the Federation is pretty happy with anything that contributes to the rise of the same. We’re trying to grow players, fans, and new avenues for the sport. NBA India has supported the initiative and has helped us in the initiative,” says Bakshi.

“The T20 hasn’t replaced the Tests, has it? Do we see that happening in the future? I don’t think so.” Bakshi was categorically straightforward when asked whether the shorter version could replace the traditional format of 5×5 from the Olympics. It’s a different sport altogether, according to the man.

BIG3 is a 3-on-3 basketball league, mostly featuring retired NBA ballers. The association was January 11, 2017, and in an interview, arguably the biggest star on the fold, LeBron James, had said that he finds the format exciting and would like to become a part of the same sometime in the future.

The Bridge has in its possession a letter that directs state associations to bar 5×5 players to play the 3×3 version at any official tournament.

The Bridge has in its possession a letter that directs state associations to bar 5×5 players to play the 3×3 version at any official tournament. However, such directions from the authorities will restrict established players to switch, or to bring the much-needed publicity to the sport from participating. The answer is still awaited.

Also read: Dronacharya of Varanasi Basketball believes “We shall overcome someday”